Sports Betting Iowa

This Feb. 20 photo shows the new sports book ready for expanded gambling at Prairie Meadows in Altoona, Iowa.

SIOUX CITY, Iowa -- Casinos in Council Bluffs and Sioux City can start taking legal wagers on college and professional sports, starting this summer, under legislation signed Monday by Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds.

The bill will allow sports books at the 19 casinos licensed by the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission, as well as bets online on nearly all college and major pro sports.

The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission had previously said it will immediately begin to develop rules for sports betting through casinos. Officials have said the rules likely would be implemented in July or August, before college sports and NFL games kick off in the fall.

Iowa's new sports wagering is expected to draw bettors from neighboring states such as Nebraska, which is a major source of revenue at three casinos just across the Missouri River in Council Bluffs.

Nebraskans and other out-of-state bettors will be able to participate in sports betting using an app on their mobile phones. First, however, they would have to visit a casino in person to establish an account. The app would work only within Iowa’s borders, so Nebraskans would have to travel to Iowa to place bets.

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Sioux City's Hard Rock Casino anticipates rolling out sports bets as soon as state regulators clear the way, spokesman Mike Adams said Monday night. The downtown casino is negotiating with a third-party entity to run the sports book and is working with an architect to select the best spot for the new gambling option on the gaming floor.

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Officials from Hard Rock likely will present their sports book plans to the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission at its meeting in June. The five-member commission also will hold hearings on the new rules it’s developing for sports betting.

A 2018 U.S. Supreme Court ruling cleared the way for states other than Nevada to provide bookmaking and betting at casinos and racetracks. Iowa becomes the second state in the Midwest to do so, after Indiana.

Iowa’s law legalizes betting not only on pro and college athletics, but also on daily fantasy sports sites such as DraftKings and FanDuel. The new law does not allow in-game bets — known commonly as proposition, or prop bets — on in-state college teams such as the Iowa Hawkeyes and Iowa State Cyclones. Such bets usually involve small wagering amounts on things like whether the first free throw of a basketball game is successful or if a player scores a certain number of points.


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